The East Side Trolley Tunnel is a tunnel in Providence, Rhode Island, originally built for trolley use in 1914. In 1948 the tracks were removed and the tunnel was paved for use by buses and trackless trolleys. The trackless trolley system in Providence was dismantled in the mid-1950s. The tunnel remains in use today, reserved exclusively for buses--currently the RIPTA routes 35, 40, 42, 49, and 78, and the Green Line of the LINK rubber-tire CNG trolley system. The tunnel runs under College Hill on Providence's East Side, connecting Thayer Street to South Main Street. The approximately 2000-foot (600 m) long tunnel allows buses to climb College Hill at a gentler grade than the city streets and to avoid vehicular traffic and stoplights. The west portal of the tunnel was built directly under the original classroom building of the Rhode Island School of Design, which was built in the mid 1890s and required extensive and complicated construction methods in supporting the building above as the tunnel was bored.
The East Side Trolley Tunnel could be considered the first bus rapid transit operation in North America considering its exclusive and continuous bus use since 1948.
The East Side Trolley Tunnel is not to be confused with the East Side Railroad Tunnel, a distinct tunnel no longer in use but just a block north of the East Side Trolley Tunnel's west portal.
Despite signs explicitly forbidding them from entering, skateboarding through the tunnel is fairly common.
It is also rumored that Ted Turner rolled a bowling ball through the tunnel during his time at nearby Brown University.